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Yamabo - Plum Udon

En Route: Trail Mix

A common refrain about Japanese food is that it’s meant to be looked at and not eaten. On a camping trip, though, how does a Japanese approach to eating balance aesthetics and practicality? Continue Reading…

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Longform: Pascuales

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THE PLACE IS CALLED PASCUALES. It’s outside a Mexican town, Ticoman, through several kilometers of coconut groves and swamps between the town and the beach itself. When professionals surf the break on film, it looks like a lot of fun. A bit fast and hard-breaking, sure, but a place worth trying.

I’d roped my friend Tom into a drive down the Mexican coast, and Pascuales was one of the obligatory stops. When we pulled up to the beach, we got out of the rental car and took a long look outside at the break — we got queasy just looking, a crazed corner of surfing hell. Debris blew past in a hot wind. Empty plastic bags, tossed chip packages and strips of toilet paper bounced along the beach sand, a dirty gray like the Roman shroud thrown over Jesus in one of El Greco’s paintings. Continue Reading…

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Somewhere in Central Asia

Central Asia is a land unto itself. From the jaw-droppingly beautiful and harsh heights of the Pamir and Tian Shan Mountains to the vibrant hues of markets and the dusty streets of ancient Silk Road cities, somewhere in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan there are landslides to be conquered, hot springs to be enjoyed and amazing textiles to be bought.

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The Nostalgic Traveler: In the City of the Dead

It was fall in New Orleans, but it felt like summer, and the streets of the French Quarter smelled of stale alcohol and vomit.

I knew the Quarter would be touristy, but I wasn’t prepared for what I found. Endless t-shirt and bead shops, stocked with boob beads. Store windows filled with cheap voodoo dolls and feather boas. The wind blew the feathers out into the street, where they were trampled down among cigarette butts and discarded Dixie cups.

There were drunk people everywhere. Continue Reading…

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You Are Here: Three Wishes in Armenia

Visiting the ancient churches and monasteries of Armenia didn’t make me believe in magic. But it didn’t keep me from wishing.

At Haghpat Monastery, visitors walk over tombstones in the floor to take away the sins of the dead. Wet, green turf grows onto the sides of the building, which dates back to the 10th century. The place is replete with medieval imagination — not long ago people saw a hawk flying near Haghpat, high above the trees with parchment in its claws. It led them to a cave where they found a medieval text that is now at the Matenadaran, the national manuscript library in Yerevan. One church at Haghpat is made up of chambers and an entry room, called a gavit. According to legend, a bard once fell in love with the king’s sister. Since he knew they could never be, he became a monk, and used to sing in the centuries-old gavit songs of broken-hearted love. I sang one of my own in there after everyone had moved on, amazed at how each note filled the room. Continue Reading…

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Longform: La Via Blanca

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MILT DROVE STEADILY THROUGH THE EMPTY NIGHT. It was quiet and cool as he headed due south, to the terminus of US 1 at the Atlantic Ocean.

His thoughts returned to Ira, the gas jockey he met earlier that day. This was in the middle of nowhere, on a small unnamed key halfway between Miami Beach and Key West, Florida. Ira was a bright young man from up north, raised in one of the New York City bedroom suburbs, well educated, but working in a gas station. He worked long hours at a dead-end job and got paid bubkes. Living a life not much different from a poor uneducated farm hand in the Deep South. He lived at the station and when he was not working, he fished or swam right outside his room. He smoked incessantly, lots of weed and, of course, cigarettes. One of the tragic but unlisted casualties of the Great War, never able to readjust to civilian life.

There was no traffic on the road, so Milt made good time on the two-lane highway. He checked in his rear-view mirror to ascertain that Sivia was dozing in the back seat. Smiling to himself, his thoughts wandered back to just a little over a year before… Continue Reading…

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Somewhere in Wyoming

Somewhere off a dirt road in Wyoming, a bald eagle flies through the crisp morning air. There are cattle to graze, rodeos to win, and mountains to climb (the regular ones, as well as the metaphorical ones, I guess).

IMG_9321 IMG_8657 IMG_9272 Continue Reading…

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In The Field: Library in Maine

I stood in the back while people filtered into the library where I was about to give a talk on maritime archaeology. In high school, I had waited for the school bus behind this same building.

My old hometown meant fishing to me, something I hadn’t done until I moved there. That’s what happens when you live by the sea. Soon I was lobstering with friends in small skiffs. We took boats across the harbor to go to the store, spending afternoons and weekends on the water. I came back years later, after teaching overseas. I took a job on a lobster boat with a friend I had known since those days. Many of my friends in town were fishermen. My brother had been, too. For five years, I was back in that life of oilskins and boat engines. I left to go to graduate school, to become an underwater archaeologist. I’ve stayed maritime. Continue Reading…

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Art Contest Winner: Ha Long Bay

We’re proud to announce the first of two winners in the Travel Art contest. This gorgeous entry came to us from Cécile Emond, a French artist experimenting with collage. Below is a piece of hers from a trip to Vietnam. Continue Reading…

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